In a post earlier this week about Donald Trump hijacking the 4th of July to make it a “Salute to Trump” campaign rally and fundraiser, I pointed out that much of what you think you know about American history is mythology:
Historical Note: One of the most widely held misconceptions about the Declaration of Independence is that it was signed on July 4, 1776. In fact, independence was formally declared on July 2, 1776, a date that John Adams believed would be “the most memorable epocha in the history of America.” On July 4, 1776, Congress approved the final text of the Declaration. It was not actually signed until August 2, 1776.
The John Trumbull painting that most Americans think of as the signing of the Declaration of Independence actually depicts the five-man drafting committee presenting their draft of the Declaration to the Congress, an event that took place on June 28, 1776, and not the signing of the document, which took place much later. Much of what you think you know about American history is mythology.
Prepare to have your mind blown: the apocryphal story of Betsy Ross designing the first American flag that we were all taught in grade school is but a myth and a legend. There is no historical evidence to support it. Here is what usflag.org says:
Elizabeth Griscom Ross (1752-1836), was a Philadelphia seamstress, married to John Ross, an upholsterer who was killed in a munitions explosion in 1776. She kept the upholstery shop going and lived on Arch Street, not too far from the State House on Chestnut, where history was being made almost every day. According to most historians, she has been incorrectly credited with designing the first Stars and Stripes. The story has enormous popularity, yet the facts do not substantiate it. Lets begin with the legend itself.
George Washington was a frequent visitor to the home of Mrs. Ross before receiving command of the army. She embroidered his shirt ruffles and did many other things for him. He knew her skill with a needle. Now the General of the Continental Army, George Washington appeared on Mrs. Ross’s dooorstep around the first of June, 1776, with two representatives of Congress, Colonel Ross and Robert Morris. They asked that she make a flag according to a rough drawing they carried with them. At Mrs.Ross’s suggestion, Washington redrew the flag design in pencil in her back parlor to employ stars of five points instead of six. (“Her version” of the flag for the new republic was not used until six years later.)
This account of the creation of our first flag was first brought to light in 1870 by one of her grandsons, William J. Canby, at a meeting of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. This took place 94 years after the event supposedly took place! Mr. Canby was a boy of eleven years when Mrs. Ross died in his home.
In the many years since the story was told, numerous historians have conducted vigorous searches into extant government records, personal diaries,and writings of Washington and his contemporaries and none of them have been able to verify the claims of Canby. One verifiable fact is this; the minutes of the State Navy Board of Pennsylvania for May 29, 1777, say in part “An order on William Webb to Elizabeth Ross for fourteen pounds twelve shillings, and two pence, for making ship’s colours,&c, put into Richards store”. The minutes show that Elizabeth Ross made ship’s colors for Pennsylvania state ships. Some of the facts, among others, that have been discovered by this research that cast doubt on Canby’s claim are these; He asserted that the stars and stripes were in common if not general use soon after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, nearly a year before the resolution of Congress proclaiming the flag. There is no record of the flag being discussed or of a committee being appointed for the design of the flag in either the Journals of the Continental Congress or the diaries and writings of Washington around this time. Meetings with Colonel Ross and Robert Morris cannot be documented. Further, it is illogical to assume that Washington was present at the alleged meeting with Betsy Ross on the design of the flag when it is known that he wanted a national standard made for the use of the army in 1779.
But I think that the question that begs to be asked is; Why have so many generations of Americans come to accept this legend as fact? After Canby’s death, a book written by his brother George Canby and nephew Lloyd Balderson was published in 1909. The book, The Evolution of the American Flag, presented in more detail the claims for Betsy Ross made by William Canby in 1870. Among other things, the authors describe the formation of the Betsy Ross Memorial Association, and reproduced a painting by Charles H. Weisgerber depicting the alleged meeting of the committee of Congress with Betsy Ross (right). The picture, entitled Birth of Our Nations Flag, is actually a composite portrait made up of from pictures of her granddaughters and other decendants. The artist took liberties with history by painting the stars in the flag in a circle. This painting, incidently, stirred a great deal of public interest in the subject when it was first exibited, at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Following this, money to purchase the Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia was raised by selling ten-cent subscriptions to the American Flag House and Betsy Ross Memorial Association, incorporated in 1898. Each contributor received a certificate of membership that included a picture of the house, her grave in Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia, and a color reproduction of the Weisberger painting. This campaign gave the legend wide publicity and the Weisberger painting was reproduced in school history textbooks thoughout the United States!
We probably will never know who made the first flag. We do, however, have a good idea about who originated its design. Credit for that achievement may go to Francis Hopkinson, a New Jersey representative to the Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Hopkinson was a talented man with a strong interest in designing symbols. He played a role in creating the Great Seal of the United States, the Continental Board of Admiralty seal, treasury seal, and American currency. Documents also show that he worked on the first official United States flag. Hopkinson’s role was addressed in a series of letters in which he sought payment from the government for design work on projects, including the flag. Officials rejected his claim, alleging he received help on the flag, but acknowledged his contribution.
Which brings me to this week’s grand distraction story from far more important things happening right now, the Betsy Ross sneakers from Nike.
Jim Small at the AZ Mirror reports, Ducey, now an attention-seeking culture warrior, goes full Trump by torching Nike deal:
Meet Doug Ducey, culture warrior.
Also, meet Doug Ducey, attention-seeker.
In the same way that some conservatives burned their Nike apparel last year after the company created an ad campaign featuring former football player Colin Kaepernick – whose respectful silent protest of police brutality against minorities forced people to confront ugly realities about existing racial problems in our society – our governor Tuesday morning publicly torched a package of state tax give-aways to Nike.
Ducey, who rode to the governor’s office as a champion of economic-growth-at-all-costs and had never seen a corporate tax break he didn’t like, suddenly is throwing in with the own-the-libs crowd who set their shoes ablaze and smashed their Keurig coffee machinesto make a political point.
Those who destroyed their own property last year because someone had a different perspective on life did so with a “look at me” attitude. Likewise, Ducey’s Nike-related declaration is clearly aimed at getting attention and burnishing his bona fides as a Trump-era conservative.
But unlike those people, Ducey is using the power of government to bully a business and threaten the future high-paying jobs of more than 500 Arizonans.
The governor is incensed because Nike had the audacity to make a business decision not to offend some of its customers. Specifically, it chose to scuttle plans to sell shows featuring the 13-star “Betsy Ross” flag. Nike’s decision came amid a private complaint from Kaepernick and public criticism from other people of color that the flag has been appropriated by white-supremacist groups and that it represents a time in American history when anyone who was not a white man was oppressed.
In a middle-of-the-night Twitter thread that was oh-so-coincidentally timed to get him maximum play on the national stage – the thread posted at 2 a.m. Arizona time, or 5 a.m. on the East Coast, just in time to make the morning national news shows – Ducey slammed Nike for abruptly canceling sales of the limited-edition $140 sneakers.
“Instead of celebrating American history the week of our nation’s independence, Nike has apparently decided that Betsy Ross is unworthy, and has bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism,” Ducey wrote on Twitter. “It is a shameful retreat for the company. American businesses should be proud of our country’s history, not abandoning it.”
To retaliate against Nike, Ducey announced that he is ordering the Arizona Commerce Authority to “withdraw all financial incentive dollars under their discretion” that were being given to Nike so it would build its plant in the West Valley and hire some 500 or so Arizonans.
That amounts to about $1 million from the Arizona Competes Fund, which exists to use tax dollars to provide subsidies for large companies to relocate or expand to Arizona. To receive grants from the ACF, companies must meet specific thresholds for number of jobs created, average pay and capital investment. All of which is to say that the purpose of the fund is to attract high-wage jobs to a state that ranks 38 in per capita income.
Not to worry, though, because Arizona’s economy will keep humming along even without Nike. “We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history,” Ducey wrote on Twitter.
Ignoramus. It’s not our history, it is a myth and a legend (see above).
The City of Goodyear might disagree that losing Nike is no big deal. On Monday night, the city council agreed to give away $2 million to lure Nike to invest $185 million on a building and hiring at least 500 workers. Those jobs will pay on average more than $48,000 a year – about 36% more than the $35,000 per capita income in Goodyear as a whole.
And Ducey’s hand-waving the jobs away because “Arizona’s economy is doing just fine without Nike” surely means little to the people who would actually perform those jobs when the plant opens a few years from now.
(Whether large tax incentives are actually good public policy is a separate debate, but there’s no disputing that Ducey has long favored them as a way to attract businesses to Arizona.)
Already, Ducey’s reaction to Nike has prompted New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to publicly court the company.
Doug Ducey’s head is so far up Donald Trump’s ass that he bumped into Sean Hannity.
Ducey’s strongman routine against Nike marks the third time in recent months that the governor has stiff-armed big business as he scampered to show fealty to a president who values shows of loyalty above all else. In April, he flip-flopped on Trump’s threat to close down the U.S.-Mexico border. In May, Ducey was the only border governor who stood with Trump’s call to implement stiff tariffs on Mexico in response to a surge of migrant families seeking asylum in the U.S.
Whether Ducey is angling for a spot in Trump’s cabinet or has his eyes on 2024 (maybe as a potential running mate for Vice President Mike Pence’s bid for president), it’s clear that he has concluded that the only way his political career continues beyond his current office is to embrace the Trumpification of the Republican Party.
And as Trump has demonstrated again and again, the currency of today’s GOP is overwhelmingly white grievance.
Now, he’s singing from the same hymnal as the man he once called a diversion and governing by tweet.
If Doug Ducey wants to be the next racist Donald Trump, Arizona needs to ditch this pathetic loser now.
UPDATE: Here is hypocrisy for you. Republican governor sports Nikes two days after trashing its decision to pull Betsy Ross flag shoes:
The Cococino County Democratic Party tweeted out a photo of Ducey wearing black sneakers with a white Nike swoosh on the side, and KNXV-TV confirmed the image was authentic.
Here is the expanded photo: